Leave voting automotive areas

Revealed: almost every car-making region voted leave in Brexit referendum

Leave voting automotive areas

In the aftershock of Nissan’s decision to cancel building the next X-Trail SUV in the UK, attention has focused strongly on the Sunderland area and its decision to vote ‘leave’ in the 2016 EU referendum. 

Nissan and Sunderland are intrinsically linked. The company employs almost 7,000 people at the factory itself, with thousands more across the North East tied to the supply chain that feeds it.

In an area affected by the decline of traditional industries, Nissan is not just part of the economy. For many, it is central to the financial lifeblood of the region.

Counting the consequences

Leave voting automotive areasThe Sunderland area has itself become closely associated with the fallout from the 2016 European Union membership referendum.

Sunderland City Council has a determination to count election votes the quickest, meaning it often makes the headlines on polling day. In 2016, this meant that, for many, the first results from Wearside are intrinsically linked to memories of the referendum.

The connection between Nissan and Sunderland had led many to wonder how an area so dependent on frictionless trade with Europe could have voted to leave the EU.

Sunderland: one of many

Leave voting automotive areasOther commentators have gone even further, revelling in schadenfreude, and suggesting that the people of Sunderland deserve outcomes like the loss of the X-Trail for how they voted in 2016.

However, as much as Sunderland’s decision to vote leave in 2016 may have baffled some, our research shows the region was not alone.

Data from the EU referendum reveals districts linked to no fewer than 21 other car factories and sites across the UK also voted to leave. Just two voted remain.

Marginal leave-voting areas

Leave voting automotive areasEight voting districts, covering eight separate car production facilities, voted with a marginal swing towards leave.

The various companies accounted for a combined total of more than 12,000 employees at the time of the vote, with Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port facility alone producing more than 118,000 cars in 2016.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Longbridge MG Motor SAIC Birmingham 50.4% Leave
Castle Bromwich Jaguar Land Rover Birmingham 50.4% Leave
Ellesmere Port Vauxhall Cheshire West & Chester 50.7% Leave
Goodwood Rolls-Royce Chichester 50.9% Leave
Crewe Bentley Cheshire East 51.2% Leave
Gaydon Aston Martin Stratford-on-Avon 51.6% Leave
Halewood Jaguar Land Rover Knowsley 51.6% Leave
Hethel Lotus South Norfolk 51.7% Leave
Malvern Morgan Malvern Hills 52.2% Leave

Stronger leave-voting areas

Leave voting automotive areasAccounting for a staggering 22,000 automotive jobs, this group of districts includes a mixture of manufacturing and technical facilities.

Vauxhall’s Luton plant has existed in various guises since 1905, while Toyota UK’s Deeside facility only opened in 1992.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Bridgend Ford Bridgend 54.6% Leave
Honda of the UK Honda Swindon 54.7% Leave
Plant Swindon BMW (Mini) Swindon 54.7% Leave
Whitley Jaguar Land Rover Coventry 55.6% Leave
Solihull Jaguar Land Rover Solihull 56.2% Leave
Deeside Toyota  Flintshire 56.4% Leave
Luton Vauxhall Luton 56.5% Leave

Strongest leave-voting areas

Leave voting automotive areasThe final set of five factories are spread across a wide geographic area, with more than 15,000 employees split between them.

Intriguingly, Dagenham, Hams Hall and Wolverhampton all exist as facilities to produce engines only.

Jaguar Land Rover’s  Wolverhampton-based Engine Manufacturing Centre was only opened in 2014. Plant Hams Hall has seen recent investment from BMW to produce engines for the i8 hybrid sports car.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Burnaston Toyota UK South Derbyshire 60.4% Leave
Sunderland Nissan UK Sunderland 61.3% Leave
Dagenham Ford Barking & Dagenham 62.4% Leave
Wolverhampton Jaguar Land Rover South Staffordshire 64.8% Leave
Plant Hams Hall BMW North Warwickshire 66.9% Leave

Remain-voting areas

Leave voting automotive areasNot every area linked to car production voted leave in 2016. Our research found two districts that voted in favour of remain.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Woking McLaren Woking 56.2% Remain
Plant Oxford BMW (Mini) Oxford 70.3% Remain

Leave it out

Leave voting automotive areasThe 2016 EU referendum is a deeply polarising topic, with the reasons for how individuals voted often complex and multifaceted.

What our research does show is that despite local economies often being deeply linked to the local automotive sector, for most areas this did not affect how they voted.

It also serves as a key reminder of the scale of the UK automotive sector, and that those taking satisfaction from the latest Nissan announcement may be overlooking a far wider trend.